HEAT VISION

'Doomsday Clock' Changes Timeline of DC's Comic Book Universe (Again)

The final issue of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's series restores and rewrites the DC universe.
Gary Frank/DC
The final issue of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's series restores and rewrites the DC universe.

[This story contains spoilers for DC’s Doomsday Clock No. 12.]

The storyline that started with 2016’s DC Universe: Rebirth Special No. 1 finally concludes this week in the 12th and final issue of Doomsday Clock, the series by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank that combines DC’s main superhero mythology with that of Watchmen. The extra-length issue once again rewrites the fictional history of DC’s comic book universe and, surprisingly, drops some interesting teases of what lies ahead in 2020 and beyond.

Earlier issues of Doomsday Clock had established that Dr. Manhattan, the omnipotent character from the 1980s miniseries Watchmen, was responsible for the changes in the timeline that created the continuity that emerged in the 2011 line-wide reboot of DC’s superhero line, known at the time as “The New 52.” In the final issue, Manhattan undoes the changes he brought about — but everything doesn’t go entirely back to the way things used to be.

Most notably, according to dialogue in the issue, Wonder Woman is established as having fought alongside the Justice Society of America in the Second World War — previously, her mother had been a member of the team using the Wonder Woman identity — while the version of the Legion of Super-Heroes that appears matches the contemporary reboot of the team, rather than the version that existed prior to 2011.

Doomsday Clock No. 12 doesn’t just rebuild the past of the DCU, however; it also looks ahead as Dr. Manhattan sees the future and shares it with the reader. It’s unclear what, if any, of the future teases correlate to actual publishing plans, with at least one such flash forward — the “Secret Crisis” of 2030, which promises “Superman [thrown] into a brawl across the universe with Thor himself…and a green behemoth stronger than even Doomsday, who dies protecting Superman from these invaders” — seemingly impossible as it teases the appearance of Marvel characters.

However, the mention of “Superman’s timeline [being] bombarded by the reckless energies of the Old Gods, once again warping the Metaverse” next year would appear to line up with events in the current Justice League comic book, in which Superman et al are struggling with the reality-altering abilities of Perpetua, an entity that could conceivably be described as an Old God.

What, then, to make of mentions of a 2025 storyline called “Time Masters,” or the 2026 invention of something called Earth-5G? Is this the actual future of DC’s superhero comics, or as much of a feint toward the never-ending battle for truth and justice as the mentions of Superman debuting in the year 2038 or 2965? It’s purposefully unclear — which might be the point, as DC prepares for a year that will unveil an official timeline for its comic book universe.

Doomsday Clock No. 12 is available in comic book stores and digitally now.

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